Monday, 2 November 2009

T. H. Sanders & Sons, and Wreaths & Crosses, Barnes

In most countries, the Day of the Dead is a pretty sombre, private affair. In France people will have used the bank holiday of November 1 to bring chrysantenums to cemeteries. On the contrary, in Mexico, where Catholic and pre-Columbian beliefs mingle, All Saints and the Day of the Dead give rise to colourful, cheerful, public celebrations wonderfully described by the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska in an article published a few years ago. Death is part of life. Everywhere people can buy a sugary sweet in the shape of a skull and add their name on it before gobbling it down. The so-called bread of the dead, shaped like bones, is an another popular treat. The favourite drinks, food, clothes, objects, and, if they died at a yound age, toys of the deceased are placed on altars and tumbs while petals of bright flowers show them the way to their former homes. The death of a loved one is still a tragedy, but at least honouring the dead isn't as morbid as it can be on this side of the Atlantic. Between the two traditions, I know which one I'd prefer...
So to celebrate the Day of the Dead, here are two painted signs for funeral parlours, separated by one century at least.

This funeral parlour is still open today and the sign above was repainted relatively recently.

Location: Barnes High Street / Picture taken on: 21/03/2008

On the contrary, the one below shut several decades ago, and the building now houses a clothing shop. Only a couple of words above the entrance door can give an indication as to the original use of the premises. Just as I was taking my picture, a lady passed by and told me the sign used to extend to the left. Unfortunately this pretty elaborate sign written with an elegant typeface, which would have been visible as people passed along the main street of the neighbourhood, had been wiped out quite some time ago.

Estd 1884

Location: White Hart Lane / Picture taken on: 31/07/2009

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